On April 12, Team Fox mentor Matt Baehr and his family welcomed a large crowd of eager athletic enthusiasts for an afternoon of crawling through pipes and racing over giant stacks of hay in support of Parkinson's research. Appropriately dubbed the Baehr Challenge, this family-friendly event celebrated it's fifth anniversary last weekend with its largest group of attendees yet!
Matt shares the history of and initial inspiration behind this great Team Fox event:
How did the Baehr Challenge get started?
When my father was diagnosed with Parkinsonís,† I was still in college and running my own business in the fitness industry.† After the initial shock and feelings of helplessness set in, I took advantage of my studies in kinesiology and delved into Parkinsonís to see how I might be able to help.† I discovered many peer-reviewed articles indicating that exercise may be the best course of action for someone with PD, and so it felt natural for me to leverage my business to help fundraise for a cure for my dad.†
I picked a park and a date only weeks away, created around 300 fliers, and spent a Saturday going from door-to-door promoting the upcoming day of exercise to benefit Parkinsonís research.† I sent out emails to my fitness client list, put the event on social media, and when the day came we attracted around 30 people or so, many of them young, and raised $316 dollars.† My dad was inspired by seeing these young people rallying behind the cause, and he encouraged me to do it again.† We worked together on planning the next event, and ever since have been blessed with attracting some of the most wonderful people we have ever met to take the event to the next level every single year.
How has this event grown over the last 5 years?
We have about tripled every year since inception, though last year we doubled.† This year we had over 300 racers and 500 attendees!
What was your inspiration to fundraise with Team Fox?
When I started researching foundations to find out how I could help, I found many organizations that did wonderful things for people with PD, but for me, I was tunnel-vision for the cure.† I found the Michael J Fox Foundation to be the leanest, most research-focused organization and made it my mission to support them.† From what I read, there is a real chance to find a cure for PD within my lifetime. Given that my Dad has decades of life to live, Iím motivated to find a cure for him.†
What are some of the obstacles your participants can look forward to this year?
Our participants will climb mountains of hay, crawl through caves of pipe, traverse bridges of rope, conquer walls, sprint through a sand-pit desert, and squeeze their way through a few surprises, all to benefit Parkinsonís research.† We design each obstacle so that there are several ways of overcoming it, some physically easier than others, so that everyone from kids to the elderly with PD can participate.
What role do your family/friends play in your event planning?
Everything.† We have an amazing team of friends and family without whom our event would not exist, all of whom are volunteers.† Itís quite the production to put on!
To learn more about the Baehr Challenge and see some additional photos and quotes, visit their website! To contribute directly to the Baehr Family's fundraising efforts, consider making a donation on their Team Fox page.